Downward Trends in Giving: Facing Reality

In most recessions, churches and non profits are typically quick to point out that giving remains stable despite the economy. With the roaring crash of 2008 and the corresponding sag of 2009, the results have been far more troubling. A recent Barna survey pointed out the following:

  • Forty-eight percent of Americans said they reduced their giving to nonprofit organizations (excluding houses of worship) in the last three months.
  • Three out of 10 also dropped their level of giving to houses of worship in recent months. Nearly one-quarter had cut contributions by 20% or more. This figure is double what it was 14 months ago.
  • Compared with a similar Barna study conducted in the fourth quarter of 2008, the percentages of people who had scaled back their donations to both charities and houses of worship had risen significantly.
  • The percentage of adults who tithe (give 10% of one’s income) has remained constant, roughly 5-7%.

While some churches and non profits have bucked the trend, most have not. And this downturn promises to linger for sometime – particularly with growing concerns in commercial real estate, bank failures to come, and the growing concern over European economies.

The message is plain: churches and non profits must dig in for the long haul and look for new revenue streams. Non cash gifts, enterprise activity, gifts from estates are just a few of the tools that must be considered. It is not just business as usual. It’s clearly time to rethink how giving is done in this country – an inconvenient reality that we’ll increasingly have to face.

Read more at Cost of faith: How recession has affected church finances –

William High is the President of the Servant Christian Community Foundation. He may be reached at if you have questions about this blog or about charitable giving for your church or ministry.

Posted in For Givers, For Ministry. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Downward Trends in Giving: Facing Reality
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